NASA to measure orbital debris around space station

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NASA to measure orbital debris around space station

NASA is set to launch a sensor on December 4 to measure orbital debris around the International Space Station (ISS).

Research from this investigation -- set to travel on a SpaceX cargo mission -- could help lower the risk to human life and critical hardware by orbital debris, NASA said.

The December 4 launch will be SpaceX’s 13th commercial resupply mission to the space station for NASA.

Mounted on the exterior of the ISS, the Space Debris Sensor (SDS) will directly measure the orbital debris environment around the space station for two to three years.

“This one square metre sensor uses dual-layer thin films, an acoustic sensor system, a resistive grid sensor system and a sensored backstop to provide near-real-time impact detection and recording,” NASA said.

For the mission, SpaceX will launch its Dragon spacecraft into orbit. Dragon will lift into orbit atop the Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

It will also carry crew supplies, equipment and other scientific research to crew members living and working aboard the station.

One such investigation will attempt to pull fiber optic wire from ZBLAN, a heavy metal fluoride glass commonly used to make fiber optic glass.